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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bearing witness and demanding justice for Brothers to the Rescue

"For the dead and the living, we must bear witness." - Elie Wiesel (1978)

Silent vigil on February 24, 2015 demanding justice for the four men in 2 Brothers to the Rescue planes killed in 1996

On December 29, 2014 in an open letter signed by past and present members of the Free Cuba Foundation it was announced that on February 24, 2015 they would be gathering at the main fountain at Florida International University. An abbreviated version of the letter was published in The Huffington Post on January 30, 2015 with title: Not in Our Name expressing deep concerns over the actions of the Obama administration on December 17, 2014.
FCF is concerned that releasing the three remaining spies, including Gerardo Hernandez -- who was serving two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to murder four members of Brothers to the Rescue in exchange for Gross and an unknown Cuban intelligence operative -- may lead to the Castro regime murdering more innocents inside and outside of Cuba.
 Two days after the new Cuba policy announcement President Obama spoke about the February 24, 1996 shoot down in terms that were factually inaccurate and called attention to his misrepresentations about what took place during that day.
FCF and its members are disturbed by the President's statement on December 19,2014 that the 1996 shoot down was not a premeditated move by Castro but a "tragic circumstance." This statement was deficient on two basic points. First of all, two planes were shot down over international airspace not one as he stated in the press conference. More importantly, the president's statement ignored documented evidence as well as court decisions and investigations by international human rights bodies that have concluded that the attack was indeed a premeditated extrajudicial execution.
 Last week on February 24th the silent vigil for justice took place at Florida International University and received press coverage. This is a tradition that began in 1996 and has been continued every year thereafter remembering that the shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue planes on February 24, 1996, by Castro regime MiGs caused the untimely deaths of Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa (age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24) and Pablo Morales (age 29).  In 2015 this silent vigil took place on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Florida International University for a Townhall meeting on immigration.

Miriam de la Peña, whose son Mario de la Peña, was one of the four men murdered by the Castro regime in the shoot down, spoke on camera summarizing the events that led to her son's death and concluded by asking President Obama: Why did he free her son's murderer who was serving a double life sentence?

Next year will mark 20 years since this terrible crime was committed and the continued impunity surrounding the shoot down demands that we once again gather to bear witness and demand justice with this silent vigil. G-d willing, we will be there once again on February 24, 2016 from 3:21pm to 3:27pm.

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